August, 1247 S. 13th St., 215-468-5442.
While August doesn't receive the attention of high-profile James or Pumpkin, its consistent performance and dedication to its mission keeps this BYOB well rated in the guides and blogs. Don't expect anything too innovative, but there's a nice twist to some standard dishes such as the Italian Meatloaf that gussies up Grandma's best, or the appetizer special, Salmon Croquettes paired with chile lime sauce. It seems you need to be a regular to get your waitress to smile, but service is efficient. 2.5 forks. (10/31/08)
Bento Tokyo, Two Penn Center Concourse, 215-568-2040
Dining underground keeps you out of the elements and close to transportation. Best bet is Bento Tokyo. Go for the Korean options that include a variety of noodles and noodle-based dishes. Buckwheat Soba comes with the traditional dipping sauce and garnishes. But also try the ramyun and pan-fried. 2 forks (11/28/08)
Indonesia Restaurant, 1725 Snyder Ave., 215-829-1400.
If you aren't ready for hard-core Indonesian food at Hardena, the small eatery long lauded for being as close as you can get to a trip to the Republic, nearby Indonesia Restaurant offers a larger menu with choices you can pair to the adventure level of your palate. The Uprising Tofu is stand-up, and you can't go wrong with the satays. Traditional Sambal as an accompaniment is a must, and even spinach haters will like the sauteed Asian spinach. 2 forks(10/17/08)
McKenna's Irish Pub, 795 N. 24th St., 215-235-0506.
Hearty sandwiches and an interesting seasonal menu encourage diners to go the few extra blocks to find this often overlooked Fairmount bar. Chef Siobhan Allgood spent time in Baja and turns out some of the best fish tacos you'll find in Philly. Interesting salads are making their way onto the menu as well. Despite the name, the atmosphere is more bar than pub. 2 forks.(09/05/08)
Shundeez Restaurant, 8705 Germantown Ave., 215-242-0665.